• synonyms

T cell

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noun Immunology.
  1. any of several closely related lymphocytes, developed in the thymus, that circulate in the blood and lymph and orchestrate the immune system's response to infected or malignant cells, either by lymphokine secretions or by direct contact: helper T cells recognize foreign antigen on the surfaces of other cells, then they stimulate B cells to produce antibody and signal killer T cells to destroy the antigen-displaying cells; subsequently suppressor T cells return the immune system to normal by inactivating the B cells and killer T cells.

Origin of T cell

1965–70; T(hymus-derived)
Also called T lymphocyte.

T lymphocyte

noun Immunology.
  1. T cell.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for t-lymphocyte


  1. a type of lymphocyte that matures in the thymus gland and has an important role in the immune response. There are several subclasses: killer T-cells are responsible for killing cells that are infected by a virus; helper T-cells induce other cells (B-lymphocytes) to produce antibodiesAlso called: T-cell
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for t-lymphocyte

t cell

1970; so called because they are derived from the thymus.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

t-lymphocyte in Medicine

T cell

  1. A principal type of white blood cell that completes maturation in the thymus and that has various roles in the immune system, including the identification of specific foreign antigens in the body and the activation and deactivation of other immune cells.T lymphocyte

T lymphocyte

  1. T cell

t-lymphocyte in Science

T lymphocyte

  1. See T cell.

T cell

  1. Any of the lymphocytes that develop in the thymus gland and that act in the immune system by binding antigens to receptors on the surface of their cells in what is called the cell-mediated immune response. T cells are also involved in the regulation of the function of B cells. Also called T lymphocyte See more at cell-mediated immune response. Compare B cell.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.